NYC Housing Connect tool intends to make affordable housing searches a more user-friendly experience. On June 16, 2020, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of “NYC Housing Connect,” an online tool for finding and applying for affordable housing. The new system provides upgrades from its predecessor through a collaborative effort by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, user-design experts and collected public feedback.
The platform itself provides more affordable housing opportunities beyond the affordable rentals. This includes affordable home ownership opportunities and re-rentals of affordable homes that were previously rented through the lottery system. The platform also offers a multitude of new features. It offers customizable searches, an enhanced application process that helps calculate income and eligibility, and a streamlined selection process with electronic document submission and real-time alerts.
The tool’s announcement comes at a time where there are number of questions about the City’s capital budget and potential gaps in affordable housing. According to a June 2020 report by the City’s Independent Budget Office, the proposed capital budget suggests delays in affordable housing financing. A total of $583 million was removed from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s capital commitment plan for 2020, and an addition $457 million was cut from 2021. Much of that funding is purportedly shifted to 2022 and 2023. As a result, “given the considerable time it takes for a project to move from financing to construction to occupancy, delays in funding for the construction of affordable housing mean that apartments are that much further from being available for occupancy.”
The City’s budget must be finalized and approved by July 1, 2020.
Mayor de Blasio stated, “This pandemic not only caused a health crisis—it has caused an economic one as well. As stress is mounting on families across the city, we are fighting to ensure all New Yorkers are supported,” adding, “the new and improved NYC Housing Connect will make applying for affordable housing easier than ever at a time that we know families need all the help they can get.”
Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said “This pandemic has laid bare the vulnerabilities of our city, and shown how important safe, high quality, affordable housing is for all New Yorkers and all neighborhoods. With NYC Housing Connect, New Yorkers will have a powerful tool, that helps them zero in on the right opportunities for their families and makes the process of documenting their eligibility much easier.”
Louise Carroll, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development stated, “with feedback from New Yorkers, we’ve revamped the system to put people first by connecting applicants to the options best suited for their households and providing a user-centered application experience. The record number of affordable housing we’ve financed over the last few years means that thousands of new homes will be available to apply for on the new portal in the coming months.”
According to the Mayor’s press release, all future affordable housing opportunities will appear on the website by July 2020.
For New York City-specific COVID-19 updates, the City established an information site with updates from all major administrative agencies. Agencies include the Department of Buildings, City Planning, Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation among others. You can find that page here.
By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)